My story of a manipulative relationship
What a manipulative relationship looked like for one SpunOut reader
This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of SpunOut.ie. It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for SpunOut.ie please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Anyone can overcome abuse, the victim is never to blame. We may be vulnerable, but someone makes the choice to use that to their advantage"
I came upon an app to make new friends but others use it for dating. As a person fresh out of a relationship I wanted to forget my first heartbreak. So I went ahead and signed up. I soon attracted the attention of one boy. Let's call him John. John started off as kind and complimenting me. I was flattered and my broken heart remained, but the pain was numbed by this person showing me the affection that I had wanted. I just wanted someone to tell me I was amazing because I didn't believe it. After a few days of talking he decided to ask me to be his girlfriend. I quickly agreed, I was totally over my ex! Let me tell you something, being with someone else doesn't mean you're ‘over’ someone, it's a way of compensating, it's like a revenge, you feel if they find out you're with someone else they'll be incredibly jealous.
During my first day of being John's girlfriend I told him I would be gone to a youth club ball the next day because I'd already paid to go to it and wanted to have fun. He immediately became enraged by saying it's just another teen disco, I'd cheat on him immediately, some guy would start groping me and it would be my own fault. I wanted to go to this ball but what if he was right? What if this was a sign of me being so disloyal, maybe that's why I got dumped before, he thought I was a cheater? For the first time, I doubted myself. I was afraid, I didn't want to be a bad person. John said he loved me and that clearly I didn't love him back. It was our first day of being in a relationship and I panicked and said I loved him.
I ended up going to the ball but the whole time, John was texting me saying I was a horrible person and I was clearly cheating on him. He tried to ring me but it was too loud to hear him so I hung up. He continued to guilt me until I had a panic attack and ended up leaving, saying I felt sick. John was happy and then wouldn't let me sleep no matter how exhausted I was. He wouldn't let me hang up the phone and would guilt me if I tried to leave. I didn't want to be seen as a horrible person. I stayed. He rang me at 8 every morning, no matter what day, school or not. At first I would always wake up and answer. I had to always have this phone call before school every morning. It had to go on until he was ready to leave, if I said I had to go get ready he'd immediately say I'm going to text another boy and that I'm clearly a cheater. So I stayed.
As time went on I grew sick of it and would ignore the phone. But he would ring until it went to voicemail and when it did he hung up and rang again. When I never picked up I got a barrage of texts of how horrific of a person I was, that I was unkind, uncaring, I was so horrible. I felt awful. As the relationship progressed it became so mentally exhausting. I had to always be in a Skype call with him and if I exited and went to another app, it would close the camera but you could still talk. So I would be only able to talk to him. I couldn't text my friends ever because if I did he would scream I was a cheater and I'm a bad person no matter how much I tried to prove I was innocent. If ever I went out with my friends I had to send a picture of where I was and who was with me. He rang me every few minutes to check I wasn't cheating. If my phone was dead he'd text my friends to give me their phone so he can ring me. He manipulated me to delete every guy I had on snapchat and Instagram because he branded them as a risk to me saying that they'd beat me up. I was scared, I was emotionally weak. I was trying to cope with depression. I didn't have time to argue, I had to cope, so I always gave in and it broke me. I had no confidence so I always listened to others, if they said I was bad it must be true.
Soon his manipulation turned to my friends. They disagreed with his ways of trying to control me and I just brushed it off as him protecting me. He began to tell me my friends were awful people. He had my passwords to everything because he told me if I said no I was hiding something. I saw no flaws in this, so I went along with it. One day he read a group chat with me and my friends. One friend sent a picture of a guy on his skateboard and I replied saying it looked cool. John found that message and scolded me for looking at another guy. He told me my friends were trying to get me to cheat on him. So I began to cut my friends off.
After months, I had been going to therapy, becoming emotionally stronger and overcoming my depression. I didn't need other people to tell me I was amazing, I realised the truth. John was my problem, he was worsening my depression. I broke up with him and blocked him on everything, I got a new number, my family helped me to get through it and see that they were really the people I should talk to. Anyone can overcome abuse, the victim is never to blame. We may be vulnerable, but someone makes the choice to use that to their advantage.